Parasite strain coexistence in a heterogeneous host population


Green D, Kiss IZ & Kao RR (2006) Parasite strain coexistence in a heterogeneous host population. Oikos, 115 (3), pp. 495-503.

Heterogeneity in host susceptibility and transmissibility to parasite attack allows a lower transmission rate to sustain an epidemic than is required in homogeneous host populations. However, this heterogeneity can leave some hosts with little susceptibility to disease, and at high transmission rates, epidemic size can be smaller than for diseases where the host population is homogeneous. In a heterogeneous host population, we model natural selection in a parasite population where host heterogeneity is exploited by different strains to varying degrees. This partitioning of the host population allows coexistence of competing parasite strains, with the heterogeneity-exploiting strains infecting the more susceptible hosts, in the absence of physiological tradeoffs and spatial heterogeneity, and even for markedly different transmission rates. In our model, intermediate-strategy parasites were selected against: should coexistence occur, an equilibrium is reached where strains occupied only the extreme ends of trait space, under appropriate conditions selecting for lower R0.

Oikos: Volume 115, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2006